Thursday, 15 November, 2018

China Cancels U.S. Soybean Purchases as Trade War Takes Hold

Europe rejects China’s offer of alliance in trade war with United States German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures next to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Berlin
Orlando Vargas | 08 July, 2018, 15:24

Months of dialogue between the two economic superpowers, including in the WTO, appeared to have failed, with Trump warning just hours before the tariffs came into effect that Washington was ready to escalate the dispute with duties on hundreds of billions of dollars more in Chinese imports.

National Association for Manufacturers: "Tariffs will bring retaliation and possibly more tariffs", said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM.

Trump is also sparring with the European Union over his threat to tax auto imports and with Canada and Mexico over his push to rewrite the North American trade pact.

That could include "a wide range of products as diverse as tool sets, batteries, remote controls, flash drives and thermostats", he said, adding, "a strategy based on unilateral tariffs is the wrong approach, and it has to stop".

China said it plans to inform the World Trade Organization about the "situation" and work with other countries to defend the multilateral system of free trade, the ministry said. China's Ministry of Commerce called this the start of the "biggest trade war in economic history".

"Around 59 percent of products worth US$34 billion subject to additional tariffs are made by foreign firms in China, with American firms making up a considerable part", Gao said.

The ministry called the U.S. actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history".

The president's tariffs, the PIIE's researchers conclude, are "a prime example of 20th century tools aimed at the knowledge-embodying trade flows of the 21st century". It opened markets for USA farmers but led some American automakers to shift production to low-wage Mexico and to then ship cars back to the United States duty-free.

Even before the first shots, the prospect of a trade war was worrying investors.

In addition to the $US16b under consultation, Mr Trump has flagged there could be more tariffs in store.

How the newly imposed tariffs will ultimately affect US soybean markets remains uncertain, as exporters scramble to find new ways to funnel their product to China.

Retaliatory measures by China also include taxes on imports of a variety of United States dairy products.

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Trade issues aside, the investment environment in the United States has deteriorated recently, leading to fears that foreign investment into the country could decline significantly.

"There are no winners in a trade war", the chamber's chairman, William Zarit, said in a statement.

White House trade officials insisted the USA economy's recent growth enables it to withstand more pain than its rivals if the war escalates further.

The United States is also set to impose 25% tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports later in the summer, and China has vowed to retaliate against U.S. goods worth a similar amount.

China's tariff actions in response took effect at 12:01 p.m.in Beijing, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing an unidentified official from the General Administration of Customs.

This prompted Beijing to respond with levies on USA imports.

Russian Federation says it has raised tariffs on some USA imports in response to the US move to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

And if Trump extends the tariffs to up to $550 billion in Chinese imports, consumers won't be able to avoid getting caught in the crossfire: The taxes would hit products like televisions and cellphones.

On the streets of Beijing, there were some concerns that prices would rise due to the tariffs but also a determination to support the Beijing authorities in the trade war.

The imbroglio began in April, when the Trump administration announced that it would impose import duties of 25% on Chinese products to punish the country for what the administration said were unfair trade practices.

"The president is trying to fix long-term problems that should have been dealt with long time ago [and] weren't", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier this week, "and there obviously is going to be some pulling and tugging as we try to deal with very serious problems".

The US trade deficit in goods with China stood at a record $375 billion in 2017. Each nation officially imposed $34 billion in tariffs on one another's exports. Meanwhile, some of the officials who previously worked for the Obama administration - known as "holdovers" - are hoping to tamp down the US-China conflict.

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